Thursday, April 18, 2013

Israel is Always Ready to Negotiate for Peace

The Palestinians have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” -Abba Eban
One of the popular but utterly false claims made by the pro-Palestinian crowd online is that no Israeli Prime Minister since Yitzhak Rabin has been willing to sit down and negotiate with the Palestinians for peace. That claim stinks to high heaven but none the less it's practically a meme on social networking sites like Facebook. Here is a summary of what each and every Israeli Prime Minister has done since the Rabin assassination.

The first Prime Minister after Yitzhak Rabin wase Shimon Peres, one of the architects of the Oslo Accords. He shared the Nobel Peace Prize with both Rabin and Yasser Arafat. Does anyone doubt his peacemaking credentials?

Next came Binyamin Netanyahu's first term. He not only negotiated with Arafat, but he signed the Wye River Memorandum in 1998 and withdrew from additional land, including most of Hebron, the second holiest place in Judaism. The consequences of that agreement were that the right abandoned Netanyahu and his government fell. He basically sacrificed his own political career at the time for an interim peace agreement.

After Netanyahu came Ehud Barak who negotiated both at Camp David and at Taba. President Bill Clinton blamed the failure of Camp David squarely on Arafat. When Barak upped the offer at Taba the response delivered by Yasser Abed Rabbo was that the Palestinians wouldn't give up "even one centimeter" of land. No counter offer was ever made. The offers from Israel were good enough that many moderate Arab leaders had encouraged Yasser Arafat to accept. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, King Abdullah of Jordan, and Mahmoud Abbas were among those urging Arafat to finally make peace with Israel. Prince Bandar, no friend of Israel, said Arafat's refusal to take the deal was "a crime". Arafat chose to fight the second intifada instead.

After Barak came Ariel Sharon who withdrew from all of Gaza without any agreement in the hope it would lead to peace. Instead the result was regular rocket fire from Gaza into Israel and two more conflicts. Then came Ehud Olmert who ran for Prime Minister on a platform of withdrawing from much of Judea and Samaria. He was at the 2007 Annapolis Conference, which was the first time both sides agreed that the final settlement would be a two-state solution. In 2008 he offered Abbas an area equal in size to the 1949 armistice line with land swaps to account for current demographics. He was turned down flat. Once again, there was no counteroffer from the Palestinians.

Now we have Binyamin Netanyahu again, who gave a 10 month settlement freeze and nearly lost his government for it. Abbas only negotiated in the last two weeks and then used the expiration of the freeze as an excuse not to negotiate. Since then the Prime Minister has offered to negotiate without preconditions whenever the Palestinians are ready. They are never ready.

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